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Massachusetts Wedding Planning Tips

Your Massachusetts wedding will be a hit—especially if you take a look through these tips from Zola!

By The Zola Team

Massachusetts Wedding Planning Tips
Photo by Thompson Photography Group

The First Look ✨

From Stockbridge and Salem to Barnstable and Boston, Massachusetts offers a stunning selection of backdrops, sure to satisfy the visions of just about any soon-to-be-betrothed couple. It’s hard not to fall in love with the state’s colonial villages, lighthouse-adorned shores, and cobblestone streets—not to mention the infectious energy of New England sports fans.

Beyond hitting the jackpot when it comes to finding the love of your life, consider yourself amongst the lucky few who get to say “I do” in charming Massachusetts. If you’re in need of a few tips and tricks to bring a bit more shape, color, and romance to your day, you’re cordially invited to read on. We’ll be covering:

Let’s start by putting your Massachusetts wedding on the map.

Where to Get Married in Massachusetts

Nothing is perfect, but Massachusetts is pretty darn close. The beauty of each region is completely unique, but they all have an equally good chance of capturing your heart. To help smooth out your decision-making process of which Massachusetts wedding venues to choose, read through the overview of each area below to find the best fit for your ideal wedding celebration.

Greater Boston Area

Bring your wedding day to this metropolitan hub if you’ve got your heart set on an industrial-chic celebration. Here, you’ll find cobblestone streets, stunning red-brick homes, and some of the most prestigious universities in the entire country. Plus, the Boston Logan International Airport offers easy access for out-of-state guests coming and going by plane.

North and South Shores

Residents of these rivaling shores won’t be pleased to find the two regions packed into the same category, but they both offer up some attractive perks when it comes to hosting your wedding. You’ll find that they’re both easily accessible from Boston (just a short drive up or down the coast) and are home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the state.

You might run into a bit more traffic on the South Shore, but it’ll also bring you closer to the idyllic peninsula of Cape Cod. The North Shore boasts 30 miles of coastline and is known for quaint towns such as Beverly, Marblehead, and Gloucester.

Cape Cod and The Islands

If you’re envisioning nautical-themed nuptials, take your special event south of Boston to the Cape Cod region. You’ll find white-sand beaches, charming fishing villages, and some of the best seafood that the state has to offer. Plus, you’re just a short boat ride away from the secluded islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

Western Massachusetts

Nature-loving couples would be wise to consider taking their celebration over to the western part of the state. Packed with rural college towns, meandering rivers, and historic landmarks, this region is home to the Berkshires, as well as several rustic wedding venue options. However, it’s a couple-hours drive west of Boston, so be sure that your guests plan for an alternative mode of transportation if they’re flying in from out of town.

Planning a Massachusetts-Made Menu

What better way to journey around the state of Massachusetts than with a carefully curated menu featuring all of the local goodies? Whether you’d prefer to add just a subtle flavor of the region to your appetizer trays or have the entire meal designed to put the Massachusetts culinary scene on display, here are a few ideas to help guide your taste buds in the right direction:

  • Oysters on the half shell – Nothing says “New England” quite like an elaborate display of freshly shucked oysters served atop ice with lemon, horseradish, and a handcrafted mignonette. It’s up for debate, of course, but some may consider the best oysters to be found right in the Massachusetts waters. Whether they’re sourced from Duxbury Bay, Cape Cod, or Martha’s Vineyard, your foodie friends will be delighted to find them served alongside a chilled glass of white wine at the cocktail hour.

  • Seafood galore – The cold Atlantic waters aren’t just home to tasty oysters. You’ll also find an assortment of seafood options that are sure to be well-received at dinner time. While you may not be overly thrilled about cracking into a lobster in posh wedding attire, you may find hot, buttery lobster rolls to be an equally delicious alternative. Add a cup of sweet, creamy clam chowder to the menu and your guests will be eager for seconds.

  • Cranberries – South of Boston there are thousands of acres of cranberry bogs—one-third of global cranberry-crop acreage, to be precise! Most people may find them a bit tart to eat on their own, but include them in a signature cocktail and they’re sure to be a hit. Cranberry mimosa, martini, or mulled wine, anyone?

  • Boston cream pie – You haven’t truly lived until you’ve had a piece of Boston cream pie. Contrary to what the name may suggest, it is not a pie but rather a vanilla sponge cake, layered to perfection, stuffed with a gooey custard center, and drizzled with chocolate icing—sounds like the perfect treat for a unique wedding cake alternative, right?

  • Cannolis – Another sweet treat you can serve after dinner is the classic cannoli. The North End of Boston is where you can look in order to learn more about this regional claim to fame. The old, narrow streets of Boston’s Little Italy are home to several award-winning bakeries and cafés. If you really want to impress your wedding guests, place a special order for cannolis and share them on your wedding day in lieu of a traditional cake.

How to Keep Your Massachusetts Wedding Guests Entertained

You, your partner, and your heart-melting love story are certainly set to be the main event at your Massachusetts wedding, but you can still leave some room for a number of other attractions to be seen and enjoyed while in this state.

If you want to be the host with the most, start by building a wedding website at Zola. You can customize it with pictures and special event details and you’ll even be able to create a special page to provide your guests with all of the insider information regarding Massachusetts tourism.

And, to collect that much-anticipated insider info, read on. Grab a few ideas from the list below and share them on your website to keep your guests entertained, even when they’re not moving and grooving alongside you and your spouse at the wedding reception.

#1 Tour Fenway Park

If you and your partner have opted for a city celebration or even one that’s a short drive away, there’s plenty of exploring for your guests to do in Boston. Grab a beverage, a Fenway frank, and catch a Red Sox game at the historic Fenway Park.

It’s the oldest active baseball stadium in the United States, dating back to 1912, and is home to one of the most iconic structural features in the league, the 37-foot high “Green Monster.” Whether or not your wedding guests are die-hard baseball fans, adding this to the Boston itinerary is a must for family and friends of all ages.

#2 Enjoy a Picnic at the Boston Common

Let’s face it: Massachusetts is old—that means it comes with a rich history that shouldn’t be ignored, and the Boston Common is no exception whatsoever. It’s considered to be the oldest public park in the country and was, historically, used as a meeting point for public gatherings and government protests throughout the Revolutionary War.

While in the city, you and your guests won’t regret making time for a picnic in the Boston Common. For a little something special, you and your guests can:

  • Go on a scavenger hunt in search of the famous Make Way for Ducklings statue to find out what outfits the eight mallards are currently dressed in.

  • Peruse the in-season blooms at the nearby Public Garden.

  • Take a quick stroll to the historic Beacon Hill district, complete with vine-covered brick façades and swoon-worthy stoops.

#3 Walk the Freedom Trail

The list of Bostonian adventures could go on and on—and on. But we’ll wrap up our express tour through the capital city with a stroll along the Freedom Trail.

If your guests are looking to get out and stretch their legs while also learning more about local—and national—history, they’ll want to make time for this two-and-a-half mile walk. Along the red-brick path, they’ll pass by a number of historic museums, churches, and cemeteries that hold several stories of the Revolutionary War and the birth of America as we know it.

They’ll want to keep their eyes peeled for things such as:

  • The Old Corner Bookstore
  • The Old South Meeting House
  • The Boston Massacre Site
  • The burial places of historical figures such as Paul Revere and Samuel Adams at the Granary Burying Ground

Be sure to leave room for lunch afterward at Quincy Market.

#4 Go Whale Watching

From Provincetown and Plymouth to Gloucester and Barnstable, there are a number of different places along Massachusetts’ North and South shores to explore marine life, including several species of whales. If your wedding guests are looking for a unique excursion, encourage them to book a tour with a local charter company for a chance to see everything from humpback to minke whales.

The peak season for whale watching is usually between May and October, so if you’ve opted for a summer soiree, chances are the two events will coincide.

#5 Get Spooked in Salem

Late autumn is another ideal time of year for weddings in New England. The fiery branches of local maple, oak, and dogwood trees will be painted with red, yellow, and orange leaves—the perfect romantic backdrop for a rustic wedding. Plus, if you’ve booked a date for mid- to late October, you may want to encourage your wedding guests to make a trip over to Salem, Massachusetts.

Not only is it known as the site of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 but it’s also a host of several spooky Halloween activities and tours each year. Ghost-loving guests won’t want to miss out on a scary good time.

Getting Married in Massachusetts, the Legal Way

By now, you know how to keep your adventure-loving wedding guests entertained and how to craft an unforgettable menu that’s complete with locally sourced ingredients.

But, what about the not-so-glamorous side of things?

The legal aspect of marriage isn’t quite as exciting as cresting humpback whales or a home run at Fenway Park, but it’s just as important—if not more so. Follow along below and you might just find it’s easier than you think.

If you want to make the process even easier on yourself, add the following information into Zola’s customizable wedding checklist. Add or remove tasks as needed and download the app to receive push notifications anytime an important deadline is approaching.

Here’s what you’ll need to make note of:

  • Good news! Even if you’re not a Massachusetts resident, you and your partner can still make things official here. There are no laws prohibiting out-of-state couples from getting married in this state. Just be sure to apply for your marriage license at a Massachusetts city clerk’s office. All licenses issued elsewhere will be deemed invalid.

  • When applying for a marriage license, you and your spouse-to-be will need to present valid photo identification, such as a driver’s license, non-driver’s license, passport, or military ID, along with your social security numbers and proof of a qualified officiant.

  • You’ll also need to pay a marriage license application fee. The exact amount will vary from place to place, so be sure to inquire about the cost before your appointment. Most city clerk offices will accept cash or check, but call ahead if you’d like to know more about other acceptable forms of payment.

  • Your marriage license is valid in the state of Massachusetts for 60 days. In other words, you’ll have 60 days to get married, starting on the date of issuance. Wedding ceremonies that occur outside of this window of validity will not be legally recognized.

  • Massachusetts is one of many states that enforce a waiting period between the time a marriage license is issued and the time of the wedding ceremony itself. This is usually done to ensure that couples have carefully thought out their decision to enter into a legally binding union before actually doing so. In the state of Massachusetts, you’ll have to wait the requisite three days before sealing the deal.

  • The legal age for marriage without consent in Massachusetts is 18 years old. If you or your partner are under 18, you’ll need to request a special Marriage of Minors form and submit it to a district or probate court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in order to be approved.

  • Be sure to return a signed copy of your marriage license to the city clerk’s office in order to receive your marriage certificate. This will need to be done within the 60-day validity period.

  • Don’t forget to request a couple of copies of your marriage certificate. You may need them later for logistics such as shared bank accounts or changes to your health insurance coverage.

Planning Your Massachusetts Wedding—Zola-Style

Whether you’re exchanging vows amidst the mountains of the Berkshires or atop a jazzy rooftop in the heart of Boston, Zola is the wedding hub you’ll want with you. Aside from rooting for love and long-lasting marriages, we’re also here to guide you through each step of the wedding planning process. We’ll help you:

  • Pick out and customize your wedding invitations and paper suite collection. You can even consult with our experts to help you get the wording just right.

  • Customize your wedding registry to make it easy for guests to know exactly what you’ll need for married life.

  • Locate a local restaurant or wedding catering service who can bring your visions for a mouthwatering Massachusetts meal to life. Plus, we can connect you with other wedding vendors in your area if you need a florist, photographer, and/or beauty professional.

  • Stay on top of your guest list by tracking RSVPs from friends and families and sorting through each of their individual meal choices.

Take Zola down the aisle and into each of the carefully curated corners of your Massachusetts wedding day.

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